- February 7, 2023
- Charles S. Hartig, Pharm. D., J.D.
- Healthy Living
The recent Tylenol (acetaminophen) shortage is causing concern among both patients and healthcare providers alike. As a pharmacist, I understand the importance of this medication and the impact that its shortage can have on our patients.
Tylenol, also known as acetaminophen, is a widely used over-the-counter pain reliever and fever reducer. It is a safe and effective option for many types of pain, like headaches and muscle aches. But almost as equally known as an effective fever reducer.
The current shortage of Tylenol is being caused by a combination of factors. One of the main reasons is a disruption in the supply chain due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has caused delays in production and transportation, making it difficult for manufacturers to keep up with the demand for Tylenol and other medications.
Another factor contributing to the shortage is an increase in demand for Tylenol and other pain relievers due to the “tripledemic” – which has been characterized as a rise in Covid-19, flu, and RSV cases among children. A challenging supply chain environment coupled with an increase in demand due to early and strong respiratory viruses earlier this winter resulted in a depletion of Tylenol products on many retailers' shelves.
Many pharmacies, including Hartig Drug Company, have been working closely with suppliers to ensure that a steady supply of the medication. In addition, most pharmacists do their best to keep patients informed about the shortage and provide them with alternative options for pain relief or fever reduction (when possible). It is important to note that there are other over-the-counter options for pain relief, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, that can be used in place of Tylenol. However, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking any new medication, as there may be interactions with other medications that you are currently taking.
Some pharmacists have started to compound Tylenol when the need arises. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines compounding as the process of combining, mixing, or altering ingredients to create medication for an individual patient. People see pharmacists for this process. During times of drug shortage, like now with Tylenol, pharmacists can make liquid solutions that are the equivalent dosages.
In the meantime, it's important for patients to be aware of the Tylenol shortage and to talk with their healthcare provider or pharmacist about alternative options for pain relief. It appears the worst of the respiratory viruses are past us this winter, and with a little luck and supply chain easing, Tylenol drug shortages will be behind us quickly.